After reading an article I found in my Twitter feed, I was challenged about how much I’m focusing on my identity versus focusing on God’s character. That led me to revisit the list from my first video post. We can use the statements of who we are in Christ to lead us to a better understanding of God’s character, which will lead us into worship. Check out my latest video for a few examples!
Often, there are things in life we really want to do. We pray and ask God to give us opportunities. Then, sometimes, we watch him give those opportunities to other people. We are then left with a choice of how to respond. Check out my latest video to see the example David left for us in supporting someone else’s calling.
The other day, we took Asher in for his two month well check. We stripped him down to his diaper and cheered when we found out he weighs almost 15 pounds. He’s an adorably chunky baby!
His pediatrician came in, and we collectively gushed over his sweetness and the milestones he’s reaching. She assured us we’re doing a great job, and she even said it’s both perfectly NORMAL and even EXPECTED that Asher isn’t sleeping through the night. Mentally, I scratched that off my list of things I fear I’m doing wrong as a parent. (All mamas have that list, right?)
Then, something unexpected happened. I hugged Asher close to me and started crying in the exam room, and I revealed my biggest fear to our pediatrician: “Asher is doing great now, but I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m watching him, looking for signs that something’s wrong. Waiting for him to break.”
Our pediatrician sat on the exam table, looked into my eyes, and spoke truth to my soul. While we must be practical and responsible, looking into the future and watching for certain things, we cannot live in fear. We must rest in the comfort that God is in control, and we must live in and enjoy the present. I nodded that she was right, and I inhaled the sweet smell of my baby as I felt the quiet rhythm of his breathing.
A verse drifted into my mind, one that a sweet friend shared with me recently: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a, ESV).
If I’m loving my son well today, I won’t fear for his future. I will rest in the comfort that God is sovereign and has a better future for Asher than I could ever imagine.
How do I love my son well? I look to the One who loves the best.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, ESV).
Jesus is the only one who has ever loved me perfectly, and he didn’t fear laying down his life in order to perfect that love.
If I look to the example of Christ and lay down my life daily for my son, I won’t have to fear. I’ll lay my life down for him when he’s healthy, and I’ll lay my life down for him if we face challenges down the road.
Where are you today? Are you fearful in a certain situation or even in a relationship? Look to the One who made you, the One who laid down his life for you. Rest in his perfect love as it casts out fear.
This weekend, I attended the Created for Care conference, a weekend for adoptive and foster mamas. Going in, I anticipated being encouraged and leaving with practical knowledge on bringing up our sweet boy. I left with something a little different, something I wasn’t expecting.
The first breakout session was on Friday afternoon. I attended a Creative Quiet Time class, a little unsure of what to expect. I sat down at a table with shiny gold and silver paper, a couple of tablets, and sample stars. Hmmm. I suppose I could get behind connecting with God while making a shiny star. I chit chatted with the ladies at the table regarding the genius idea to use cute Kraft style wrapping paper as a table cloth, and we waited for the session to begin.
The session leader, Virginia, asked us all to come to the front for a few minutes before we began our time with the Lord. I tried not to sigh as I gave into her request, remembering days gone by when I LOVED sitting in the front of the room as I soaked up information. Now, I would much prefer to hide in the back of the room.
Virginia shared that the theme of the weekend was Shine, and she asked us to think of people who shine. What made them so shiny? No, it wasn’t oily skin or sequin-covered dresses. Joy, contentment, positive attitudes, and time with the Lord were all shouted out, even the fact that most shiny people are thinkers and dreamers who are moving forward in life.
After we reflected on things that make people shine, Virginia shared with us reasons that people lose their shine. Discontentment, unconfessed sin, disobedience, not spending time in the Word or prayer, etc.
That one caught my attention. She said most of us, as we grow older, stop dreaming. That’s me. I’ve had dreams of writing, teaching, and speaking for years, but I stopped doing much about those dreams.
Virginia guided us through a time of prayer. She asked that we would each hear from the Lord. I felt a bit skeptical, but I asked God to help me be open to hearing from him.
And I did.
I sensed God reminding me that I am his, and because I am his, I can dream. I sensed him encouraging me to be confident in who I am in Christ, to trust that he will enable me to pursue the dreams he has placed within me.
After we prayed together, I decided to spend my time with the Lord doodling in my journal rather than going to one of the stations. As I doodled, I reflected on the dreams he’s given me, and I asked him to show me the hindrances within me to achieving those dreams.
Many of those hindrances were because I was focusing on my “don’ts” rather than my “dos”, a trap Virginia said leads to discontentment and not pursuing our dreams.
I don’t have a mentor pouring into my life and teaching me how to achieve my dreams.
I don’t have lots of connections.
I don’t have a large reading audience for my blog.
I don’t have teaching or speaking opportunities.
I don’t have enough material.
On and on.
It’s time to focus on the dos!
I do have a Savior who empowers and equips me to do all that he has called me to do.
I do have a loving and supportive husband who wants me to pursue the dreams God has given me.
I do have a great community of faith who can pray for and encourage me along the way.
I do have a blog, and it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t read it at this point.
I do have the entire Bible and 34 years on this planet, which sounds like plenty of material to me!
So, this year, I’m going to take steps to making progress toward those dreams. I don’t know what that’s going to look like at this point, but I’m going to start by writing with more intentionality on my blog (this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Sometimes, that will be about adoption related topics, like many of my posts in 2015. Other times, I’ll be writing about passages in Scripture, with possible teaching recordings to accompany those posts. Even if I don’t have opportunities to speak in front of other women, I can create opportunities to teach. Will you pray with me as I pursue these dreams?
What about you? What dreams have you had? Have you pursued those dreams? If not, what’s stopping you? I’m praying God will give you the courage to pursue the dreams he’s given you. After all, you’re his, and because you’re his, you can dream with him.
Joseph and I believe strongly that God has called us to adopt, and we believe that He wants us on that journey NOW. So, we’re taking tiny baby steps of faith, praying for His leading, begging for peace and strength.
We’re in the waiting phase now, particularly with the private agency (we still have a long road with DSS). There aren’t as many pressing items on our to do list. Close to 98% of the items from our yard sale have been cleared out (all but a stack of items we’re trying to sell online). Our house feels big and clean and quiet. So, so quiet.
In the midst of the emptiness and the quiet, I’m faced with the reality of my fears. Fears I don’t like admitting are there. I’d much rather put on a smile and tell you all I’m trusting God 100%. But I try not to be a liar.
So, I’m going to put it all out there: I’m scared.
I’m scared of the adoption process. The agencies. The emails, both the ones that are popping up in my inbox and the ones that aren’t. The paperwork and the idea of being evaluated.
I’m scared that no one will pick us to parent their children. This is like standing in the high school cafeteria, hoping and praying to spot someone who tolerates me and will let me enjoy my plate of rice and gravy and my sweet tea next to her … but worse.
I’m scared we’ll end up with the “wrong” children, which sounds so silly, because I believe in the sovereignty of God.
I’m scared we won’t raise enough money, that we’ll have to go into debt I’m scared we can’t afford.
I’m scared of the silence as we wait to hear from God.
I’m scared of the waiting, especially since I don’t know how long the wait will be. Truthfully, I’m scared of myself during the waiting. I know how my heart is prone to wander, where I’m tempted to sin.
So, in the waiting, I’m attempting to confront the fears with Truth.
God has worked out every detail of my life and Joseph’s life to get us to the point where we’re waiting to be matched with our future children. He has worked out every detail (already) of the adoption process. He knows our children. He knows we will be their parents. He knows how many hairs are going to be on their precious heads and even how many dimples will frame their sweet smiles. He is still knitting them together in their birth mother’s womb, and I pray He keeps knitting until they’re full term. (See Romans 8 and Psalm 139.) Because I’m not carrying these babies myself, sometimes I feel disconnected from these truths. I have to remind myself of them.
God isn’t intimidated by the financial aspect of adoption. His eyes don’t bug out, and His jaw doesn’t hit the floor when He sees the cost of a private adoption. God simply does not look at money the way we do. (Side note: if you’d love to listen to a fantastic series on financial stewardship, look here.) He has always provided for us, and I trust He always will, even if the way He chooses to provide isn’t what I expected. Philippians 4:19 comes to mind: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I love that phrase “according to His riches.” According to His, not mine. That takes some pressure off.
The waiting. Ah. Waiting. Not my favorite activity. I know there is a purpose for waiting, often many purposes. Growth tends to happen in the midst of waiting. I hugged Joseph the other day and said, “I have a lot of growing to do, so we’re going to have to wait a long time! I’m sorry!” He just laughed and said we all have a lot of growing to do. True. I probably have a little more growing than he does, though. ;O)
As we’ve been reading through the psalms this year, I’ve encountered the word “wait” more times than I’ve enjoyed. I wanted verses that told me God would start our family quickly. Instead, I found many verses that spoke of waiting for the Lord. So, I did what any good Bible scholar would do: I went to biblegateway.com and searched for “wait” in the New Testament. There was probably something there that would say what I wanted, right? I was blessed by what I found. There were no verses telling me I’d receive an email this week from the adoption agency with the perfect match for our family. Instead, there were several verses that talked about waiting for the return of Jesus.
All of this – the two years of not being pregnant, the years of feeling left behind, the joy of starting the adoption process, the pillow talks about baby names and nursery paint colors, the conversations with adoptive families about their parts of HIS story, the moment someone places the squishiest of babies into our arms – all of this is happening so we will look to Jesus. All of it. When He returns, I want to be found among “those who are eagerly waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28). And so, I must end this post with Hebrews 12:1-3, so delightfully paraphrased in The Message:
Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on JESUS, who both began and finished the race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. THAT will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
As I prayed yesterday, my prayers drifted from my heart’s desire to know God more to thoughts of our babies. I told God I was scared I would miss Him in the process of adopting our babies. We’ve seen Him at work over the past two months, showering us with good gifts. I confessed I was scared I would love the gifts more than the Giver. In the midst of paperwork and inspections and waiting, I want to get to know God better. When we hold our babies in our arms for the first time, I want to be closer to God than I’ve ever been.
As I closed my prayer time, Zephaniah 3:17 brushed across my mind, a beautiful image of God singing over me. I asked Him to sing over our babies, to sing the sweetest lullabies they’ll ever hear. I asked Him to hold them in His arms until we can hold them in ours, to cradle them until we can.
I made a little printable that I’m going to have printed and hang in my soon-to-be prayer spot in our nursery. If you like it, you can print it, too!
Our future babies are on my mind and on my heart today – as I suspect they will be most days.
Last night, we attended our first Growth Group session at church. We’ll be reading and discussing The Connected Child. I’m so thankful we have an opportunity to learn a little about parenting adopted children before we meet ours.
When we left our meeting, I felt burdened for our children. There is a chance they’ve already been conceived and are in the womb right now. We learned about risk factors for our children that I had never even considered. Obvious risk factors are the mother consuming drugs and/or alcohol while she’s pregnant, but I had not considered a stressful pregnancy (an unwanted pregnancy sounds stressful to me), fighting with the babies’ father, or a difficult delivery. All of these things can affect our babies’s brain development before they’re even born.
I left with more ideas of how to pray for our children and their biological parents. While we’re purging excessive stuff and preparing a place for our babies, I know their current situation is likely much, much different. I’m praying for peace for the mother, peace in the relationship she has with the babies’ father, and a safe delivery. I’m praying that if she is stressed, she wouldn’t turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with that stress. I’m praying that if the father is scared about providing for these children, he wouldn’t turn to illegal means of increasing his income.
I’m praying that God will place people in their lives who will share the Gospel with them. I want them to know and love our Savior, even if that means we never have the chance to adopt. I would rather their parents know Jesus than these babies get to know us.
During my Bible reading today, I started reading Exodus. God’s people had obeyed His command to “be fruitful and multiply”, and there were a whole lot of Israelites in Egypt. The Pharaoh was oppressing the Israelites and even wanted all of the Hebrew baby boys killed. After years of slavery and oppression, “the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew” (Exodus 2:23-25, ESV).
I was encouraged by this picture of God hearing, remembering, seeing, and knowing. God hasn’t changed since Exodus, so I trust that He hears our babies in their mother’s womb, He remembers His promises, He sees our babies, and He knows our babies. So, I’m lifting them up to Him. Would you lift them up, too?